NM delegation split over oil and gas orders
Members of the state’s congressional delegation are split along party lines regarding the Biden administration’s executive orders aimed at the oil and natural gas industry.
Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich said he would not support a permanent, unilateral ban on new oil and gas leases, but he believes a pause is appropriate, despite concerns from industry groups and others that doing so could have immediate implications for the New Mexico’s bottom line.
“It’s also crystal clear that the zero-carbon, zero-pollution economy is coming,” Heinrich said. “… To weather that change, New Mexico needs a transition plan with a predictable glide path for producers and robust investments in the communities where our energy veterans have produced our country’s transportation fuels.”
In contrast, freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, whose district includes New Mexico’s share of the Permian Basin, said the president’s actions are hasty, and could have dire consequences for state coffers and local communities, given the industry’s role in New Mexico’s economy.
Herrell sent a letter this week to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, asking that she join with her to protect jobs and the state’s interests. She noted that one-third of New Mexico’s budget relies on oil and gas revenues, with more than $1 billion going toward public education.
“While other members of our congressional delegation have been reluctant to speak out against the president’s actions, I hope you will join me in urging President Biden to reconsider any moratorium on new oil and gas leases in New Mexico,” Herrell wrote.
Despite the governor’s aggressive stance on climate change, New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Executive Director Ryan Flynn said Lujan Grisham’s pragmatic approach has allowed industry to be at the table as new regulations are drafted. He said there are similar opportunities for the Biden administration to meet its goals while avoiding economic damage.
Freshman U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., said not addressing climate change is a threat to national security, and hearing from the public about safeguarding sacred places and building new economic opportunities will be important as the Biden administration reviews the oil and gas program.